Latin America

What the Latin American left could learn from Ron Paul?


Ron Paul is clearly one of the most influential politicians in America. His presidential campaigns popularized libertarianism in a way no one had  before. Libertarians overseas know him, and a lot of them had a genuine appreciation, but people outside the United States who are not libertarians don’t know him. The foreign media probably doesn’t have a clue why a Republican Party presidential candidate is against war and supports drug legalization.

I’m a Peruvian who came to politics from the radical left but after getting familiar with libertarianism, I think there are a lot of things that the Latin America left could learn from Ron Paul.

Ending the War on Drugs is the most obvious libertarian idea that the left should embrace. Prohibition of drugs was part of an imperialist policy that generated the corruption of Latin American governments and had caused the boom of large narco guerrillas which endanger the civil population mostly in Mexico and Central America but also in Peru and Colombia.

The drug legalization argument could be based on the idea of individual responsibility and freedom of choose, conservatives would sound like hypocrites if they attack these policy on that grounds.

Oppose corporate free trade deals. That’s a position that the left wings in most countries oppose, but Chile, now governed by the Socialist Party, supporting TPP shows that there are exceptions. Even in countries where there is a right-wing government the left should use the argument that free trade deals are just corporate protectionism and have nothing to do with free markets. What could be reaction of conservatives in a parliament if a left-wing congressman argue against free trade while mentioning Ron Paul and the works of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute on the matter? The conservatives would not only look like hypocrites but also ignorant if they continue to support that policy.

Show respect for civil liberties. The Latin American left had a bad experience in the past with coup d’états promote by the United States but I hardly believe that the protests of indigenous people in Bolivia or Ecuador are a product of imperialism. The right of free speech and free assembly should be consider fundamental for any left-wing government.

Stand for anti-imperialism. Imperialism is not a myth of the left but a real policy of global expansion of influence by the United States. Quoting a conservative congressman from United States would made clear that imperialism is not creation of the left but a reality.

Closing U.S. military bases in the region should be a priority, and reducing military spending. The nationalism of Latin American armies is dangerous. A lot of corrupt military leaders had participated in coup d’états in the region. Giving more money and power to them is not a good idea.

While maybe some readers could had been surprised at beginning of the text, there are several policies proposed by Ron Paul that the Latin American left could embrace. In the American context, Ron Paul is to the left of Barack Obama. Ron Paul had spoken that despite not agreeing with the policies of Venezuela, he doesn’t think that sanctions have done any good. Ron Paul has been saying that United States shouldn’t intervene in Latin America and that the embargo toward Cuba must end. He has some fans in the region — probably not part of left — but maybe Latin American radicals could learn something from the Ron Paul revolution.